The consequence of commitment

We said yes in 2015.

We said yes to leadership opportunities.

We said yes financially to a church building campaign.

We said yes to renewed pursuit of dissolved dreams revived by a gracious God.

And each time we said yes, the paved walkway beneath our confident feet crumbled. Soon our beautiful roadway was nothing more than a dirt foot trail filled with pot holes and stumbling blocks lingering in opportunity to stall progress.

Our normally healthy kiddo, hospitalized during Thanksgiving.

Financial strain we haven’t experienced in years.

Struggling census creating a bit of job insecurity.

Behavior issues with my kids requiring professional intervention.

Turmoil. Pressure. Struggle.

A pendulum of priorities vying for my attention.

Adopting an attitude expecting the unexpected. Waking each day wondering how my well planned life became such a hot mess.

God, is this what is means to say yes to you?

I struggled with this question.  For months. It caused me to pause in writing. It caused me to dig deeper and differently into his truth. It caused me to review my base motives.

And one day, God spoke:

Why are you above the struggle?

Why indeed?

The course of the last few months have shaken the core foundation of my jaded beliefs and caused me to reinforce the cracks with concrete evidence of God’s truth. The truth about who I am and the truth about why I am here.

And seriously, it’s not about me at all.

It’s not about my comfort.

It’s not about living on my own steam.

For a good percentage of my life, I have lived with the misconception that if the call comes from God, it should be easy. Friends, this is a lie.

When we said yes, when I said yes, I told God I was willing to stretch beyond my comfort in order that I could lean upon his strength. “I can do all things,” is no longer a fancy t-shirt slogan. It’s a core belief. Right when life seems impossible and it seems we have nothing left, God shows up in a provisional way time and time again.

I’ve also learned when I have nothing left, God still wants me to give. My time, energy, resources, finances- the list is endless. But it’s his. The calling is still mine.  No one else is going to pursue it, even when I don’t feel like it. No one else is going to type the words he lays on my heart to say. No one else is going to make tough calls on behalf of my marriage, family and home. No one else is performing the hard work it takes to live the life he created for ME to live.

I’ve learned I cannot live my call alone. The people he has handpicked for my life are mine.  My job? Learn who they are. What makes them tick. Discover their love language and encourage them in their own pursuit of his purpose. Above anything, I am learning to be the friend, wife and mother that I want to have.

I have learned I don’t have to know everything. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to allow others into my weakness. Each day, I can look to God and the amazing community surrounding me for wisdom, prayer and strength.

When I continue to give my whispered yes to God from the deepest valley of life, I live life in a way I have never before experienced. I carry my cross to the finish line of faith. I learn the communication work it takes to become one-minded with fellow believers.

Daily, I ask God for my portion and daily I thank him for the grace extended to me as I die to self and increase in his image. Daily I ask for divine appointment, divine opportunity to share his love with those who most need it. I commit to him my whitespace for the day _and then the roller coaster begins. Friends, I don’t want it any other way.

Life without God is not living at all.

The consequence of commitment is a life directed by God – the author and creator of the big picture. The masterpiece I am likely to miss when I am intently focused on the snapshot of the season.

 

Safety is not guaranteed on the observation trail

“Let’s start on the observation trail”, I suggest to my husband before he can complete his turn.  The backpacker trail sounds a bit risky and we have never hiked here.

I want to know what I’m getting into.

We pull up to a beautiful stone path trail complete with a sign to explain we should  finish the 3/4 mile trail in about 45 minutes.

A paved path with a timeline.  This is my kind of trail.

You see, I’m a girl who likes to live a buttoned up life.  After experiencing a long season of insecurity, I have worked hard to build a life guaranteeing stability for me and my family.  I find comfort and protection in knowing where I am going and how I am going to get there.

Then life has the odacity throw a foil in my carefully laid plans. Unexpected meetings.  Divine appointments.  I find myself in a panic trying to recoup and recover for lost time. Most days I check off every cherished detail on my list feeling like I am in a tailspin while simultaneously wondering if I accomplished anything valuable with my life.

What did I accomplish today? 

Can you relate?

As I approach the well paved path with my family,  I discover quickly this path is not as elementary as it first appeared.  I can take the clean- cut path but in doing so, I miss little adventure stops that can only be experienced by stepping off the paved trails and on to dirt foot paths which lead to some of the most spectacular views our state has to offer.

Garden of the Gods-1

My shaky legs navigate rock cliffs towering over the tallest trees in the forest. My breath is taken away by the majestic beauty surrounding us from every direction. The wind blows in my hair as I embrace my nervous energy in anticipation for what is next.

Garden of the Gods -2

No safety ropes.  No agenda.

No need for the well paved path.

As we complete the observation trail,  I find myself anxiously anticipating the backpackers trail. After all, when you have stood high above the forest, there is no need to worry about what lies within it.

Those who trust in themselves are fools but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

Proverbs 28:26

Walking in wisdom does not mean staying on the well paved trail.  It means prayerfully discerning God’s will for the moment. Understanding my life is fully in his control even when my list of to do’s will more often remain undone in exchange for priorities he has deemed more important.

I can make the choice to remain on the well paved path.  Or, I can navigate the dirt foot trails leading to the spectacular view of life only found when placing my safety and security in his best purposes and plans for me.

Even when I haven’t planned for what is coming next.

You will be secure because there is hope.  You will look about you and take rest in your safety.

Job 11:18

 

What or whom do you place your safety?  Join the discussion at #LiveFree Thursday’s.

 

 

 

If I must take a side, I choose Jesus.

I’m watching the coverage unfold with my 12 year old son.  His face bears the same disappointment I am feeling in my heart.

It seems like the battle has officially been lost.  One that I have never really understood in the first place.  We rally on the streets and preach from the pulpits.

With every word and action, the division in this issue has left a gap impossible to bridge. More than anything, I want my son to stand for whom he believes.  However, I want him to do so from a place of dignity and love as opposed to disrespect and judgment.

Because I know behind sin stands a story of brokenness.

And in brokenness, hope can take root and grow.

After posting John 3:16 to my facebook wall, I avoid social media.  The battle still looms.  The words from both sides are strong.  Above all else, I will take a stand.

But to what cost? Who is left to pay the price?

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whoever should believe in him would not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

In this time of confusion, I still choose Jesus of Nazareth.  Why?

Because I am a sinner.  No one is without sin.  Not one, the bible says. The only person I can change is me.  No matter what I say on facebook.  No matter what I post on this blog, I can only change me.

I believe God is still in the business of healing.  Who paid the price?  His son, Jesus, who was sent to die for my sin before I ever had chance to walk this earth.  No prerequisites.  Merely a choice to believe that I can’t pay the price for sin on my own.

I can’t hold a nonbeliever to the same standards I follow.  Nor can I influence their choices without relationship. Love covers a multitude of sin.

When I lovingly confront one who I build relationship with, they see my heart in place of my hypocrisy.

I know that judgement from the church can bring more pain than promise.

No matter how big the divide, Jesus is bigger.  He came to fill the divide.  He came to bridge the gaps.  Even when it feels like I’m losing the battle, Christ has promised victory in the war.

“I urge ,then, first of all that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness.

1 Timothy 2: 1-2

Five Minute Friday: Fear

God has not given us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

My diva wonder dog, Zoe, has been an incredible addition to our family.  We adopted her from the animal shelter the week of Christmas as a gift to our kids.  They had been asking for a dog forever.  I hesitated because I knew exactly how much work an animal would add to our busy lives.

My husband brought her home, bathed her and she promptly crashed belly up on the couch with my kids watching a Dr. Who marathon.  A perfect pup.

But our perfect pup isn’t always so perfect.  She has unparalled fear and anxiety when she is left home alone or a thunderstorm occurs.  The thunderstorm fear is a bit of an issue as we live right next to a train building yard and she cannot always discern the difference.

Her muscles quiver and quake.  She paces and pants through the house.  Her body temp rises.  And, when she is alone, mass destruction ensues.  Since mother’s day, she has jumped out of every screen in our house, eaten a dog cage, my living room and bathroom curtains, bathroom trim, bath towel drawer, the bath towels in it and more Walmart bags, cotton balls and Q-tips than I can count.

She is perfectly safe in her environment.  She has everything she needs in our home.  Unconditional love (obviously), food, water, shelter and comfortable conditions.  But her fear overcomes her and drives her to actions that are not a normal part of her character.  My diva wonder dog transforms into the incredible hulk with no explanation.

Then I think of the feelings  fear and anxiety drive in me.  Fear prevents me from leaving my comfort zone.  What if I fail in this new adventure?  Even worse, what does it mean if I succeed?  So I stay.  I never move forward.  I never dip my toes in water. I never know the fullness life has for me to experience because I let fear beckon me to stay in what I know.  My fear causes me to hold those closest in my life back from experiencing their lives to the fullest.

Just this week, fear caused the deaths of 9 innocent people in a church prayer group.  Fear has cost a 22 year old man the rest of his life behind bars.

What irrational action is fear leading you in today & who might be harmed as a result?

What is fear keeping you from becoming ?

My five minutes are long past gone and a storm is rolling in.  Let diva wonder dog duty begin.

 

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This post is linked up with Kate Motaung’s five minute friday free write.  You can find more like this at Kate Moutaung‘s , or you can take a stab at it yourself.  See you there.